Famous Last Words

 The internet contains lists of “Famous Last Words.”  Some of the last words are true, some are exaggerated, and some are false.  I have tried to verify this list.

General John Sedgwick: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

Civil War Union General John Sedgwick was at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, on May 9, 1864. He was about 1,000 yards away from Confederate sharpshooters. Their bullets caused members of his staff to duck for cover.

 He strutted about, taunting his soldiers. “What?  Men dodging this way for single bullets?  What will you do when they open fire along the whole line?” Although ashamed, his men continued to flinch. 

That’s when he said his famous last words. “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Just as he said those words a sniper’s bullet struck him in the head.

John Adams: “Jefferson still survives.”

 Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were close friends, then bitter enemies, and finally, close friends again. Miraculously, they died on the same day – the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson died at Monticello, the spectacular home he designed in Virginia. John Adams died at his home in Massachusetts. Adams was unaware that Jefferson had died first.  Jefferson died a few hours before Adams, which makes Adams’s last word even more poignant. “Jefferson still survives.”

Marquis de Favras: “I see that you have made three spelling mistakes.”

 Thomas de Mahy, Marquis de Favras was a French aristocrat and relative of Marie Antoinette.  He was sentenced to death by the French Revolutionary tribunal.  He was beheaded on February 19, 1790 by guillotine.  Before he “lost his head,” he was served with the death warrant.  He pompously complained, “I see you have made three spelling mistakes.”   

Nathan Hale, “I regret that I have only one life to give for my country.”

General George Washington asked for a volunteers to go on a special spy mission. Twenty-one-year-old Nathan Hale stepped forward. He was caught.

British General Howe ordered that Nathan Hale be hung, without trial, in the public square in New York City the following day. Howe wanted to send a message to the American rebels.

So, on September 22, 1776, as the noose was placed around young Nathan’s neck, he proclaimed the famous and immortal words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” 

This was not the message Howe intended to send. By hanging Nathan Hale, General Howe created a martyr. Plus, Nathan Hale’s final words further inspired the revolution.

Death Row Inmate James Donald French: “Hey fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries!’”

 James French was executed for murder on August 10, 1966 in the Oklahoma electric chair.  A reported commented, “James Donald French got what he demanded: death in the electric chair.  He faced death with the same cockiness he faced life.” French was pleased with himself when he suggested the headline: “French Fries!

Seer Nostradamus: “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.”

 Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus) (1505-1566)   was a reputed seer and prophet.  He and his followers believed he could predict the future. He had suffered with painful gout for many years. On the evening of July 1, 1566, Nostradamus told his secretary, “Tomorrow, at sunrise, I shall no longer be here.” He was right. The next morning Nostradamus was found dead, lying on the floor next to his bed.

French Composer Jean-Philippe Rameau: “What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.”

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) was a brilliant composer and musician. In order to comfort him, a priest sang to him next to his death bed. Rather than comforting Rameau, it annoyed him. The priest was singing out of tune. For a composer and musician, out of tune singing would be pure torture.  Thus, his last words were, “What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.”

Queen Marie Antoinette: “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur.” “Pardon me, sir.”

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was the last Queen of France. Unfortunately for her, she was Queen during the bloody French Revolution. 

Her most famous statement is “Let them eat cake.” This was her reply when she was told that the people were starving because they had no bread.  Her retort was probably not flippant sarcasm.  She was totally naive, and she thought that everyone had cake as well as bread. When the palace ran short of bread, they served cake.

 As she walked to the guillotine to be beheaded, Marie Antoinette accidentally stopped on her execution’s foot. She politely apologized, “Pardon me, sir.” An interesting statement.  She would have rejoiced if give a true pardon.

Death Row Inmate Thomas Grasso: “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s; I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”

Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Grasso was convicted of double murder. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on March 20, 1995.

Traditionally, such convicts are given a last meal. He requested canned Spaghetti-O’s.  Instead, he got canned spaghetti.

 He was outraged at this injustice and wanted the whole world to know — as if anyone cared. He announced, “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s; I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” He was more concerned about the perceived injustice of not getting Spaghetti-O’s than he was about the people he murdered.

Italian Political Strategist Niccolo Machiavelli: “I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles.”

Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, writer, playwright and poet. In his most famous book, The Prince, he encouraged politicians to engage in dishonesty and murder. “The ends justify the means.” The book teaches “evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power.” Even today, unscrupulous politicians are called Machiavellian. Although I am not in a position to judge, Machiavelli probably got his wish to go to hell. His final words, “I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles.

Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith: “Oh, Lord, my God”

On June 25, 1844, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was murdered by a mob while he was in the “protective custody” of the Illinois Governor. He had just seen his brother murdered next to him in the upstairs jail room. His friends were also under attack. Joseph rushed to the window. He was shot several times, and plummeted to the ground. As he lay dying, he said his last words, “Oh, Lord, my God.”

Jesus: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me.”

 These are the Savior’s last words according to the gospels of Mark and Matthew.  (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34) These words reflect the deepest feelings of loneliness, agony, abandonment, and despair.   

 Whether in the Garden of Gethsemane, or on the Cross, he suffered alone. No one else could take his place. 

“He paid a debt that he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.”

Jesus: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”

These are Christ’s last words according to the gospel of Luke. (Luke 23:46) These are words of hope.  Christ is coming home.  He is returning to his Heavenly Father.

Jesus: “It is finished.”

These are the Lord’s last words according to the gospel of John. (John 19:30)

With his death, Christ finished his mortal ministry.  He had completed his mission. He was returning home with honor.  

2 thoughts on “Famous Last Words

  1. I’ve had firearms training working a police department and in the military, and I still marvel at the downrange accuracy of rifles. Using an M16, it never ceased to amaze me that a target would go down at 300 yards from a round from my rifle. I canNOT imagine success at 1000 yards! In the 1800’s! Maybe a lucky round?

    Liked by 1 person

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